Wednesday, May 20, 2015

8 ways to master the art of the surprise sales opportunity.

business optimization, CRM, CRM consulting, crm miami, crm optimization, Lead management, marketing, net neutrality, salesforce, Salesforce consulting, salesforce optimization, SkyPlanner Tips of the Trade,

At SkyPlanner, Miami's Salesforce Partner, we know the importance of networking. And in an industry like ours it can happen anywhere, at any time. For example, once while on our way to our weekly team lunch a gentleman noticed the Salesforce1 Platform shirt on a team member. Initially pleasantries led the gentleman to mention he was in the process of purchasing licenses from a competing CRM but was curious to know more about Salesforce. While that encounter did not lead to a repeat meeting it is a good example of how business opportunities can sprout when you least expect them.

The randomness with which networking opportunities can arise makes it imperative that you know how to network effectively in all situations. Unfortunately, for many networking is difficult enough when they have time to prepare so spur-of-the-moment sales opportunities can be akin to crossing the Atlantic in a rowboat. That led us at SkyPlanner to learn all we could about networking "in the moment". There are hundreds of online resources for learning how to network effectively. Below are 8 tips that SkyPlanner collected that can help anyone network better.
  • Manage Expectations. You might want to make every connection count but that may lead to undue pressure and pressure makes it nearly impossible to be comfortable in the moment. One good networking interaction yields better results than a handful of mediocre (or worse) ones. Know how to manage your expectations.  
  • Practice your ice-breaking skills. While in our example the ice was broken by the person interested in a team member's shirt many times you'll have to be the one who initiates conversation. And that's a skill that has to be honed. 
  • Have talking-points. Know the main points you need to get across to the other party with the assumption your interaction will be brief. Focus on the most important points only. Any other information will flow freely from those points or can be addressed later in a follow-up.  
  • Have an exit plan. Be aware of cues that exist when a person is trying to end a conversation. A good rule-of-thumb is to start wrapping things up once contact information is shared. Bonus: this helps you avoid saying anything you might have to backtrack on once you can sit down and have a more thorough meeting. 
  • Listen first, talk second. Let the other person do most of the talking. Those who tend to get nervous have to be most aware of talking too much to cover their insecurities. Listening also makes you seem genuinely interested in what the other person is saying (which you are because you're trying to find out as much as possible to use when pursuing the possible sale). 
  • Share a bit about yourself. This doesn't mean you give them your life's story but a personal anecdote or fact on your end will make the other person feel like he or she isn't just getting a sales pitch. Bonus: it will make it easier for them to remember you during a follow-up. 
  • Take every opportunity you can to get comfortable talking. Even the people who seem to be natural networkers are only so skilled because they've had practice. It could very well have been that they were sociable toddlers but it was still practice. It's important to know how to talk to strangers. Speaking casually with people at work or in other places where you're comfortable (gym, club, etc.) helps. One common tip we found throughout our research is to practice outside your normal "range", which entails going to another city or area unknown to you and striking up conversations.
  • Take it a step at a time. You won't become a networking ninja overnight, nor should you expect to do so, but you'll get better if you take the time to do so. 

  1. Brooks, Chad. "Are You an Introvert? 8 Ways to Make Networking Easier." N.p., 01 Aug. 2014. Tue. 19 May 2015.
  2. Desmarais, Christina. "7 Networking Tips for Introverts, Extroverts, and the Socially Awkward." Inc., 04 Aug. 2014. Tue. 19 May 2015.
  3. Desmarais, Christina. "How to Think on Your Feet Under Pressure: 6 Tips." Inc., 25 July 2014. Tue. 19 May 2015.